The Shame Game.

Posted by Joy Cannis

Y’all, the holidays are rapidly approaching. Are you ready for this…there are 9 more Saturdays until Christmas. We are being plunged into that time of year when patience is low, demands are high and sleep doesn’t fit on our to-do list.

There’s a reason why multiple case studies show that addiction is the highest during the holiday season. It’s the most difficult time to stay sober. I think in part because we’re surrounded by people who trigger all kinds of emotions. It’s also a time when everything around us says we should be feeling a certain way. For those of us who have always bucked up against conformity, we don’t like for people or things to tell us how to feel.

Yesterday, October 19th, by the grace of God, I reached my 12th year of sobriety. I am now a productive member of society (most days). The road was long and filled with twists, turns and dead ends. There were a lot of tears and pleading with my Higher Power. There was uncertainty among the rubble of my indiscretion. There were times when I felt hopeless.

And then something changed. Have you noticed how everything starts with a decision?

I made a conscious decision to fill my mind with truth and courage. I stopped entertaining deception and falsehood. When I didn’t believe the truth of who I am and that I’m made in the image of God, I would repeat it over and over throughout the day, “God, I belong to you. Thank you that I belong to you. Thank you that darkness has no power over my mind, heart, body and soul. Protect me from evil and all who promote it. Keep me safely in your will.

Love hands Do you know someone exploring the possibility that they may have a problem with alcohol, food, drugs, pornography, sex, money…anything that is hindering them from living out their purpose? Maybe you’re the one struggling? Please know that you’re not alone in your struggle. There are literally thousands of us around you. We are in your congregation, your women’s Bible study, on your tennis team. We are moms and grandmothers. We are leaders. We are wives.

It’s time to stop playing the shame game and lay it down where it belongs…at the foot of the cross, where Jesus himself proclaimed, “It. Is. Finished.

Hope heart My prayer, in this moment, is that God will intervene and direct our thinking…that we will find purpose in this coming season of busyness and overspending…that we will seek out someone who needs our help and become so caught up in helping others that we don’t have time to entertain the lies that blind.

A couple of excellent resources involving two of my favorite communicators on the planet, Jud Wilhite and Mike Foster are, People of the Second Chance (@POTSC on Twitter) and CentralOnline. Please direct people here who need a community of hope and healing.

For download:

Prayer

You-Follow Me.

Posted by Tamera Ford

image As my nine year old would say, “If you’ve ever had an emotional response that moved you to the point of saying something you shouldn’t have, raise your hand.”

Both my hands are raised right now. My feet too.

Do you know who else could raise his hand? The Apostle Peter.

Peter was often moved by his strong emotions, blurted out without thinking about what he was saying and usually ended up getting corrected by Jesus. But, Jesus also loved Peter.  Even in all of Peters faults, He saw something in him.  Jesus knew Peter would deny him three times the night he was taken captive.  Peter didn’t believe he would do it, but he did.  Carrying around the memory of denying his Lord must have been a heavy burden, a huge regret.  How was he to move forward from this kind of mistake?

Jesus, in his mercy and love came to Peter and the disciples and made a point to restore Peter.  We see this in John 21:15-19, “After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”  Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Three times Peter denied Jesus, three times Jesus restored Peter. Our Lord is gracious, compassionate and understanding. He never leaves us to wallow in our mistakes. He is there to restore us to himself. And, not only restore us but put us on the path of His great plan for our lives.  Jesus restored Peter then told him three times, “feed my sheep!” Jesus called Peter into the ministry of feeding the people the word of God and caring for them. Jesus also revealed a part of Peter’s future.

Peter had much to think about and focus on. His relationship had been restored, the weight removed, a call given and prophecy concerning his future spoken, what did Peter do next?  Peter, like so many of us, became distracted from what the Lord was saying to Him.  In verse 20-21, “Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” (Referring to John)

Jesus, the perfect teacher, responded in verses 22-23 saying, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.”

Ouch!  I’ve received instruction from the Lord and shortly there after become distracted and headed in a different direction too. What did Jesus tell Peter? YOU—follow me. In the ministry, it’s SO easy to get distracted by others and spend much more time than we should wondering “what’s going to happen to them?”

What has the Lord told you to do? What instruction has he given you concerning your life and ministry? Don’t allow yourself to get distracted and detour from Gods instruction. YOU, follow HIM!

And, if you have been carrying around guilt feeling condemned over a mistake you have made, today is the day to let the Lord restore you. He loves you. Get back up and carry on. He has a plan for your life and your mistakes can only hold you back if you allow them. Receive God’s forgiveness today!

God has a beautiful, amazing and interesting plans for each of our lives. Let’s not allow condemnation and distraction keep us from experiencing His best!

Father, Thank you for loving me so much that you made a way for all my sins and shortcomings to be forgiven. I receive your forgiveness today and thank you for restoring me. I will rejoice that I am free from that burden. You love me and I love you. As I walk in fellowship and you speak to me concerning the plan you have for my life, I will stay focused. I will not be distracted or detoured. Help me to stay on course by your Spirit and your word. In Jesus name, AMEN!

Dance in the Rain.

Posted by Mardia Lira

attachment We went to visit our family in Mexico over the summer, and on a beautiful and sunny day we decided to go visit the local zoo. We got there and started to walk, just when we were half way through the sky turned gray and started to rain. It was raining so hard it felt like the sky was falling. My girls were completely scared with the amount of cold water falling on their shoulders. We ran and hid under the closest tree, but the time passed by and the rain didn’t seem to want to stop any time soon. Our only option was to brave the storm and run through the rain to get to our car. There we would be safe. We started to run. I was holding my 3 year old who was crying in fear while my 9 year old ran next to me. My arms were tired. I didn’t have any strength left. We were stopping under a few trees but I knew we couldn’t stay there for long. There I got an idea. What if we play a game and race to the car and see how many puddles we can step on. Their eyes lit up in excitement. From that moment on running in the rain was fun and exciting. We got to our car and we were happy, laughing and smiling.

I feel like this experience is very similar to my Ministry.

My husband and I are church planters in the beautiful city of Las Vegas…who said planting a church was easy? Sometimes it feels like the rain is never going to stop. It is hard work, high expectations, and big disappointments. It seems like some things take longer than they should. My house is in a constant state of chaos and my schedule is just plain crazy!

Sometimes I feel like I am just going through the motions when I try to keep everything from falling apart. I feel especially stressed out on those days when I find myself doing laundry at midnight and having more appointments than I can count. My heart feels heavy and I don’t like feeling overwhelmed because I know there’s so much more to do still.

I love the phrase:

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Do you remember the story of Martha and Mary from Luke 10:40?

Jesus stayed in their home. Martha went and complained to Jesus about Mary because she decided to sit at his feet and listen to what he had to say.

40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!

Wow, that’s exactly how I felt, worried and upset about details. I can not allow myself to be overwhelmed so I had to learn to delegate. I let go of some stuff in order to accomplish what is truly important and change and re-arrange things constantly. I have to believe that God is always there. I need to understand seasons and trust that God is more interested in seeing this ministry succeed. I am in charge of setting my priorities straight, because they get unbalanced in a heartbeat, I need to be whole for my husband who needs me, my daughters that follow my example and the church I lead.

I want to experience and enjoy this season to the max. I don’t want to miss the opportunity of sitting at the feet of Jesus to just listen; after all he is the one who fills me with joy and peace.

I want to spend my life in God’s purposes for me, and I want to do so happy, full of love, growing, and enjoying every step I take in ministry. I want to dance in the rain!

“Your word is my delight and my joy because I am yours.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

If you are in a difficult season remember, God is always by your side, you can come and rest in him.

What changes did you have to make in order to enjoy your journey? Share with us in the comments below.

Alexander and His Terrible, Horrible Day.

Posted by Lori Wilhite

“A terrible day isn’t so terrible when you’re surrounded by the people you love.” -Alexander

Over the last three weeks, many ladies who are part of the Leading and Loving It’s Be. In the Know. email updates have gotten the special opportunity to pre-screen Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good,Very Bad Day.

4 thumbs up all around from the Wilhite gang. We. All. Loved. It.

Since the movie releases Friday, our partners at Different Drummer have also shared a family discussion guide for the film. Grab some popcorn, hit the theater, click the image below, and enjoy a great family chat.

AlexanderInstagram

Huge thanks to our friends at Different Drummer for the great pre-screen opportunity and discussion guide.

Make sure you don’t miss out on special events like this, while also keeping up with all of the Leading and Loving It happenings! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR BE. IN THE KNOW. EMAIL UPDATES.

A New Normal.

Posted by Stephanie Shouse

Be-still Over the past four weeks I have found myself in the most unusual situation I’ve ever been in as a pastor’s wife. For the past four weeks I have gotten up on Sunday morning, had my quiet time, eaten breakfast, gotten ready, gone to church, and…just been there. No lessons to prepare, songs to sing or copies to make. No nursery schedule to manage, no volunteers to organize, no events to plan…I just show up to church, talk to whomever crosses my path and simply be. You see, four weeks ago my husband and I started at a new church, and we made the commitment from the beginning of this ministry that I would take a few months to rest from all leadership activities in the church.

My biggest worry about the decision to take some time “off” was that my new people would think I was lazy or uninterested or, heaven forbid, unspiritual! Guilt weighed me down as I watched the ladies prepare a potluck without my help in the kitchen, the new semester of children & youth ministry kicked off without my teaching skills, and the praise team led worship without my voice. I felt useless and insignificant as I filled my time with simple conversations, smiles and words of encouragement to whoever seemed to need my time. But God was pressing into my heart the need to be still and let Him be God. He was turning my focus away from tasks and towards people. I was gradually filling my schedule with relationships instead of busyness…and the guilt began to be replaced by peace.

I knew that this change of pace was from God, and that my refocus was pleasing to Him, but I still wished I could explain my actions (or lack thereof) to my people each and every week. What they must think of their new pastor’s wife?! Then God gave me a precious gift. I was speaking to the church secretary and she mentioned in passing how much the people of the church love me. Already? But I haven’t even done anything! “Oh, but you have,” she replied. “Taking time to talk to people or, more importantly, to listen to people, makes them feel special- and that makes you special to them.” What a gift! To be loved and accepted without doing anything to earn that affection–that’s truly from God!

So often in my 17 years as a pastor’s wife I’ve found myself exhausted and depleted because I was trying desperately to live up to the expectations placed on my shoulders. Some of those expectations came from my church people. I remember walking into the first nominating committee meeting at our first church to discover my name on the list as VBS director because “The Pastor’s Wife always directs VBS.” Talk about getting thrown into the deep end! But some expectations come from myself and my own desire to make people happy. Yes, I will take on the nursery schedule since no one else will. Yes, I will host the youth at my house so they don’t disturb the prayer meeting at the church. Yes, I will come to church early and help you make copies for your Sunday School class. But every time I said yes to something that God was not calling me to do, I was saying no to something that He WAS calling me to do: love people.

It has only taken me 17 years to figure this out, so I’m glad to have the opportunity to share this discovery with you. God has called me to do two things: love Him & love people. That’s going to look different during every season of my life. Sometimes I will be busy and sometimes I will be still. But either way I can rest in knowing that as long as I’m loving Him & loving people, there is nothing more I need to be doing. God is pleased with this simple obedience. And church people who also love God and love people will be happy with a leading lady who takes time to do the same. So I am letting go of the pressure to perform. I’m letting go of the need to please people with many tasks. I am letting go of the guilt for being still and resting. And I am getting used to my “new normal”: taking time to simply BE.

What is filling your schedule and keeping you from having time to love God and love people? How can you carve out moments where you can simply be still on Sundays?